For every woman who 'never saw it coming' and really meant it.
|Five days ago the reality that I had so carefully created, my world, didn’t just change. It shattered with an explosion so violent that I was sure other people could hear it as it concussed and the waves radiated outward from my mind past my drums and out my ears. In the splinter of time it took to rip open an envelope marked with no return address, time started bubbling and wobbling for me. We all craft our realities, sometimes painstakingly over years, and they become the stability in which we wake, rise, experience the mundane and filter the unexpected. But once in a while external forces rip at the world we have created and in less time than we ever care to acknowledge, it is exposed for the nothingness that it is. We all live our life in two worlds, one tucked inside the other: we have the one that began when we were born and is furnished with our experiences, family, friends, thoughts, health and learning. It ceases to exist the moment we do. But the other world, the one that existed before we were born, fits us in without favouritism and will continue without sentiment for us after we die. This world is overarching to our mind’s reality and sometimes it overpowers us, too.
Until that moment last Thursday, I had never understood in books when people ‘saw red’ or passed out from emotion or encountered bouts of mindlessness. In fact, I often sloughed it off as poetic license. I didn’t discount it entirely as melodrama but as I’d never actually seen a brain ‘hiccup’ before, I wasn’t sure they actually did. Well, hiccup.
Just like that (insert blink here) my life of meaning and depth turned into a horrible trashy novel in the discount bins at the pharmacy. You know the ones, where you read a paragraph and exclaim to yourself, “That would never really happen!” And the limp, glossy caricatures that authors don’t even pretend to stiffen with dimension and complexity? Well, that became me. Move over Jackie Collins. So, these entries are my (albeit feeble) attempt to chronicle the period where my life flattened, and hopefully with a bit of resolve and humour, push the thoughts and emotions that echo so forcefully inside me out into that other world, that second world, and recraft my personal one in a quieter way.
The day after I opened the letter I fled the city to my parent’s home a drive away, so I could huddle in a corner in a ball and let the waves of grief roll around inside of me. My husband took the children to the PNE as we had already promised them a day of rides and games to round out the last days of summer. It provided a distraction for them so they wouldn’t see what was staring at them from the edges of our world. As I hacked into his finances to discover the depth and breadth of his deceit, my parents offered me calm, and advice, and cups of coffee and unmitigated love and support. They are amazing.
Certain people needed to know right away because I needed advice and because I just couldn’t carry the calamitous weight myself. So, Shannon drove in from Calgary. Serendipity that with a twenty-two month old and a four-month old (new world Irish twins) she had the opportunity to come to Vancouver for the week. Over she came, flooding me with relief that I had a girlfriend who cared so much. Because I’ve always been confused when I see shows like Friends or How I Met Your Mother. Do people really have these real-time friendships that are everyday and all-consuming? I never did so I never felt quite bountiful in the friend department. Really, I’m a .86 teacher with a six-year-old, a four-year old, a dog, two cats, a household to keep organized, family to see, and until five days ago a husband who I thought was my best friend. Who has time for much more?
But, over she came, determined through the door, armed with all my favourites. Red wine, salt and vinegar chips and Deep ‘N Delicious cake. Small fish bowl stems were filled, a bowl of chips plopped in between us, on the couch Shannon and I picked out together four years previously. Later came one cake and two forks. Plates were not even an option at that point. After savoury, sweet and salt, much purging and a very honest conversation, I felt I could go to bed and actually get out of it again the next morning. Because that night Ray and I had sat the children down to let them know Daddy would be moving into a different home. Still your home. Nothing to do with you. Lots of love in this family. Lots of different kinds of families. Yes, we will still celebrate Christmas together. Yes, Nathan, rip up the tissues. Okay to cry. Let’s keep talking. Okay to be angry. Shhhhh, Casey, shhhhhh. We love you. It may be difficult but we are strong. Lots of love in this family. And after dinner we played Go Fish and it felt surreal, that the heartache had been simulated on a TV show by someone else and maybe everything was back to normal in our family again. Except that it wasn’t and Ray left to sleep at his parent’s house and I drank wine and purged with Shannon. And the name of the wine she brought over was Broadside.